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PETA calls for boycott of Canadian maple syrup to protest seal hunt

May 27, 2009 | 10:51 am

A PETA demonstrator dressed as a baby seal gestures during a protest at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont.

It's one of the most unusual boycotts we've heard of: PETA is calling on Americans to stop buying Canadian maple syrup to draw attention to the plight of seals during Canada's annual seal slaughter.

The rationale, the group says, is to hit our seal-killing neighbor to the north where it hurts -- in the pocketbook. "Canada has ignored calls from around the world to stop the seal slaughter, but we're hoping that a plunge in maple syrup sales might get the government's attention," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement, adding that "there's nothing 'sweet' about a country that condones the largest annual massacre of marine mammals on the planet."

Many thousands of harp seals, hooded seals and grey seals are killed every year in a hunt that Canada's Fisheries and Oceans department insists is "founded on sound conservation principles" and necessary to protect fish stocks. And, despite widespread outrage over the cruelty of the hunt, the Fisheries and Oceans department says it has taken steps to ensure seals are killed humanely -- if by humanely you mean "only by the use of high-powered rifles, shotguns firing slugs, clubs and hakapiks."

Fortunately for seals, several factors have led many to speculate that the annual hunt may soon be discontinued (even without a maple syrup boycott). 

Earlier this month, the European parliament voted to ban imports of seal products, calling commercial seal hunting "inherently inhumane." (Both Canada and Norway said they would challenge the ban.) 

A few days after that vote, the U.S. Senate sent a strong message of its own, unanimously passing a resolution calling on Canada to end the hunt. 

Even before the European ban, seal pelts weren't exactly selling like hotcakes. "I can't see for the life of me how you could break even, let alone make money, this year," longtime sealer Jack Troake told CBC News. "It's almost impossible." 

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A PETA demonstrator dressed as a baby seal at a protest in Montpelier, Vt. Credit: Toby Talbot / Associated Press

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